We’re finally back with more round robin action, folks! Last time we saw the Flyers, they were pulling off a pretty commanding 4-1 victory over the Bruins in their first exhibition game, looking pretty sharp, and overall just giving us a whole lot to be excited about.
The bad news, though, is that game also saw Michael Raffl take something of an awkward crash into the boards and leave the game. He’s been ruled out for today’s game, so Joel Farabee will enter the lineup. And that’s the end of our housekeeping.
And what’s been up with the Capitals? Well their first round robin game didn’t go terribly smoothly. They fell behind early to the Lightning and while they were able to stage a comeback to tie things up again, ultimately they lost in a shootout. But despite, the outcome, they did still look to be back to just about regular season form, more settled than the Bruins team the Flyers saw over the weekend, so they figure to still be a formidable opponent.
Three players to watch
1. Joel Farabee
As we mentioned in the introduction, with Raffl ruled out for this game, Farabee will enter the lineup to make his post-season debut. He had himself a really strong camp, but still found himself to be the odd man out, but now he has a chance to see if he can pick up with that momentum and have an impact in his first game back. He’ll be put in the best possible position to do so, as he figures to play on the third line with Derek Grant and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him to be positively lights out in his first almost playoff game, but all the same, we’re excited to see what he can do.
2. Brian Elliott
We also have a change in goaltenders for this game! We knew the plan with the round robin, according to Alain Vigneault, was for Carter Hart to get two of the starts, and then the third would got to Elliott. And with Hart starting in the Boston game, that leaves just this one or Tampa Bay for Elliott, and this one feels like perhaps the more logical choice. So Elliott’s in for this one, for his first look since his period played in the exhibition game. He looked solid in that limited showing, and was a big reason why the Flyers were able to pull off that overtime win over the Penguins. But at the same time, it was only a period of play after all, and now Elliott will be given the chance to work fully back up to speed with a full game, and hopefully he can look as sharp as he did in that limited showing.
3. Scott Laughton
Gone streaking! Okay, yes, it is a small sample, but Laughton has goals in each of these first two games the Flyers have played, and overall has just been looking really sharp. His line with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny has found some chemistry already, but it still feels like there’s even more for them to give still, and they’ll have a chance to tap into something more today. But Laughton has been playing some good hockey so far, and has naturally been a key to that line’s success so far. It would be neat to see him get his scoring streak to three games, but really we’re just keeping an eye out to see that he and his line are able to continue to build on the chemistry that they’ve already begun working out.
Two big questions
1. How will the retooled bottom six perform?
If you already saw on Twitter, or scrolled to the bottom of this article for the spoiler, you’ll have seen that the Flyers have adjusted the look of their bottom six—Farabee slides in on the third line, and that bumps James van Riemsdyk down to the fourth line for this one. One of the big takeaways from Sunday’s game was how well the bottom six was producing, how the Flyers’ depth was winning out in that matchup. We’ve got some new looks, and while on paper they look to have some promise, in practice can be a whole other story. So we’ll be keeping an eye out to see just how these tweaks work out for the Flyers.
2. Can the power play find some success?
The Flyers’ power play looked really sharp in their exhibition game, but took a bit of a step back in their first round robin game against the Bruins. They still got some looks and showed flashes of looking flat out dangerous, but we’re still waiting to see them cash in on one (or more!) of the chances they’re generating. They really do seem to be close, and they’re going to need to have their power play actually producing at a reasonable clip if they want to find success in the playoffs. Will today be the day it all really comes together? We’ll find out!
Pucks drops at 4:00 this afternoon, and you can check out the Flyers’ projected lineup below.
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Laughton - Hayes - Konecny
Farabee - Grant - Aube-Kubel
van Riemsdyk - Thompson - Pitlick
Provorov - Niskanen
Sanheim - Myers
Hagg - Braun
We also called up our friends at Japers’ Rink to get a little inside information about how the Caps look after the pause; have a listen!